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4 Simple Ways Your Fitness Routine Can Benefit from Self-Care

When you think of taking care of your health, exercise is one of the first things that comes to mind. You know you need to stay active and stay in shape to protect your body, but what you may not realize is that you also need self-care to protect your mind. Combining self-care and fitness is the best wellness move you can make. Here are some ways to do it.

Start Working Out More at Home

Sticking to your fitness goals is important. If getting to the gym causes you stress or interferes with your schedule, though, you may want to think about building a gym at home. It’s easier than you think, and can make getting those daily workouts in easier on your schedule. You can use any extra space you have, whether it’s your garage, a spare room or a basement, and quickly set up a workout space in your home. The equipment you fill it with will hinge on your needs and the amount of space available, but for most people, basic workout equipment, like a jump rope and dumbbells, is enough to get a good workout at home and stick to their budget.

Consider Holistic Wellness Practices

A regular fitness routine will help keep your body in shape. Working out can help enhance your mood as well, but it’s not really enough to manage your mental health. You also need to find ways to help your body recover after all that effort, which is where holistic self-care practices come in handy. Incorporating practices like acupuncture, Pilates, massage and chiropractic treatment can be beneficial for relieving stress and helping keep your emotions in balance. Yoga is another practice that complements most physical fitness routines, and it improves strength and flexibility in your body. Runners can use beginners poses such as downward facing dog and pigeon to help build more muscle and keep joints flexible, all while reducing stress.

Treat Pain Through Self-Care and Exercise

If you suffer from chronic pain, you can combine self-care and fitness to find relief. The trick is to find simple workouts that get your body moving while helping your mind feel calm.

Yoga is also a good choice here, but you can also try doing tai chi. This slow, intentional practice is especially effective for seniors looking to decrease pain symptoms and decrease their fall risk.

You can treat more than arthritis with exercise and self-care, though. Studies have also shown that regular physical activity can help Alzheimer’s patients, and exercise may even play a role in preventing this debilitating condition. Research around this is still limited, but one thing that’s for sure is that adults who exercise are less prone to other chronic health conditions. Heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers can all be prevented with the right fitness routine.

Help Yourself Age Well with Fitness and Self-Care

Older adults who are looking to stay in their best shape also need to factor self-care into the equation. Without self-care, you are leaving your body and mind vulnerable to the effects of chronic stress. Consistent levels of high stress can leave older adults struggling with heart disease, anxiety and other health issues. Staying active is a great way to care for your well-being, but you also need to make sure you are taking time to really enjoy life. Practicing daily mindfulness can help all adults live more fulfilling lives. Being mindful means taking time to pause and reflect on your life, and to be thankful for the things that make you happy. In between workouts, take a 15-minute break to meditate or to write down what you’re grateful for.

Physical fitness can go a long way in preserving your overall health, but it’s not the only wellness habit you should commit to for a better life. Finding ways to work self-care into your fitness routine and your everyday life can change your body and mind in many positive ways, so make time for more self-care, and keep working toward those health and fitness goals.

Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy and encourage her clients to stay positive. She incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions.



man with food  rich in protein showing thumbs up

Impact of Protein on Fitness

Excitement on protein has just growing throughout the years. Protein shakes, bars, or high-protein diets are really popular nowadays among fitness and healthy lifestyle lovers.

Protein is an important component of every cell in our body. Along with carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient”, of which the body needs vast amounts. Moreover, protein cannot be stored, so our body is in need of this nutrient fairly often. Despite its popularity, it has been revealed that 1 in 3 adults lacks protein nourishment in their regular diet. Studies have also revealed that those with a higher intake of protein were more active and therefore have better metabolic health, including major faculties to lose weight.

Are you still uncertain? Here are 10 science-based reasons from Gym Equipment GB (1) to add more protein to your diet:

Increases Muscle Mass and Strength

Probably one of the most popular reasons, but still an important one. Protein repairs, maintains and grows cells and tissues, including muscles. If you are training or trying to lose weight, it is necessary to keep a higher intake of protein than usual, because it can help you prevent muscle loss and it will increase your strength.

Reduces Cravings and Desire for Late-Night Snacking

Cravings are common and sometimes difficult to control. They usually are more related to a psychological desire than a physical need. It requires strength to overcome the temptation, but the solution may just be to increase the amount of protein in your diet.

One study in overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60% and the desire for late-night snacking by half.(2)

For female, it seems that a higher intake of protein during breakfast reduces anxiety and desire for snacking throughout the day.

Reduces Appetite and Hunger Levels

Protein is, according to the studies, the most filling macronutrient. It actually helps you feel more full with less food. Ghrelin — the “hunger hormone” that sends signals to your brain to eat — is a clear enemy of those trying to lose weight. Protein is able to help keep it in check. It also boosts the satiety hormone peptide YY that makes you feel full.

Is Good for Your Bones

There is a part of the public that believes that protein, especially animal protein, is bad for your bones because increases the acid load that leads to calcium issues. However, most studies confirm that a major intake of protein, including animal, has abundant benefits for bone health. It helps maintain bone mass as we get older and lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

This is an important point for women, who after menopause are more vulnerable towards this disease if a low-protein diet comes along sedentarism.

Boosts Metabolism and Increases Fat Burning

Protein filled foods have been proven to naturally boost metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn up to a hundred each day. If accompanied by exercise, protein can be the best ally in your goal of losing weight.

Lowers Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a cause for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney diseases. However, several studies have shown that by increasing your intake of protein you can also lower your blood pressure. Another demonstrate improvement includes risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

Helps Maintain Weight Loss

As we mentioned above, a rich-protein diet can boost metabolism and reduce cravings. This is indubitably convenient for those seeking to not just lose weight, but to maintain it in a long term basis. A 12-month study of 130 overweight people on a calorie restricted diet, showed that the group on a high-protein diet lost 53% more fat than a normal-protein group eating the same amount of calories.

Losing weight and becoming healthier is just the first step. Maintaining a new habit can be the biggest challenge for most people. A moderate increase in the intake of protein can help with weight maintenance.

Does Not Harm Healthy Kidneys

There are concerns about the potential harm that a high-protein diet can have on organs, especially kidney diseases. Several studies have investigated this and discovered that high-protein diets have no adverse effects on people who are free of kidney disease. It can be beneficial for people with a previous medical record to limit their intake.

Those with a healthy kidney have nothing to worry about when opting for an increment of protein in their diets.

Helps Your Body Repair Itself After Injury

Protein is the concrete of your body, maintaining the body’s tissues and organs and repairing them. Numerous studies have shown that eating more protein after an injury can help speed up the recovery.

Helps You Stay Fit as You Age

As we get older, our muscles tend to weaken, and eating protein has been shown to be one of the best ways to prevent this. Fragility, bone fractures and muscle deterioration are just some of the consequences of aging, but it can be prevented by increasing our protein intake and more importantly, keeping an active lifestyle.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Do I need more protein? How much is too much?” Most people already eat enough to prevent deficiency, which is around 15% of the total calories we take. However, by eating up to 30%, it can help improve metabolism, especially if training or working on weigh tloss. You should always keep an active lifestyle alongside the protein intake, and consult a professional in case of doubt. Benefits of proteins have been vastly demonstrated and is an easy way to boost your health and start building strong nutritious habits.

Lisa Sickels is a Content Writer and Developer at proteinbee.co.uk. She has been in this industry for 5+ years and specializes in writing educative content on protein, health, gym, etc. She loves to read trending news to keep her updated!


(1) https://www.gymequipmentgb.co.uk/

(2) https://www.proteinbee.co.uk/10-reasons-to-eat-more-protein/

fresh foods

Jumpstart: 10 Quick Weight-Loss Tips

If you’ve ever lost and then regained weight, what’s the best way to stop overeating and keep weight off for good?

Rather than starting yet another diet, try tasting, really tasting your food—or meditating for a moment before eating. In other words, think outside the diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of overeating research!

Our original research on Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)1,2 unlocks some truly remarkable reasons you overeat and gain weight—and, conversely, how to overcome overeating, overweight, and obesity. Want to reap the rewards? Here are 10 tips—from our research and that of others—that could help you overcome overeating and reduce odds of being overweight or obese.

#1. Choose Chocolate

Savoring some chocolate might remind you of something you’d like to overeat—but don’t write off chocolate just yet as a (heavenly) food that could help you lose weight (yes, you read that right). In a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers showed that it’s possible to eat chocolate and weigh less if you choose the right kind—a cocoa content that’s 70% or higher, and the right amount—an ounce a day, about the size of a credit card. (Sorry, but more isn’t better `cause if you overeat chocolate, the calorie-count climbs too high to reap the rewards.) The secret to chocolate’s metabolic mystery? The antioxidant epicatechin, which revs up your metabolism.

#2. Feed Your Senses

Here’s your excuse to buy that favorite gourmet olive oil you’ve sniffed in one of those fancy olive-oil boutiques. Scientists in Germany have linked an aroma—specifically, the scent of olive oil—to eating and weighing less. Somehow, the scent of olive oil lead research participants to feel satiated sooner than those in the canola-oil scented group. And it gets better: those in the olive-oil group lost weight, while the canola-oil folks gained weight. Can “sense-filled” dining really up your odds of eating less? Yes, according to my research on Whole Person Integrative Eating,1,2“Sensory Disregard” is one of the 7 overeating styles we identified. To find out if aroma is a stay-slim tool that works for you, try your own experiment with scent-sory olive oil and other scintillating scents. 

#3. Nix Night Eating 

Call it nighttime hunger, nocturnal eating, or night eating syndrome (NES). Regardless of what it’s called, if you do a lot of overeating after you’ve had dinner or well into the wee small hours, it’s a triple weight-gain whammy! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reveal why: 1) your metabolic rate and digestion slow down at night; 2) consuming a lot of food at night wreaks havoc with hormones that control appetite, and; 3) eating when your body is meant to relax and restore itself busts your body’s built-in biological clock. The take-away: Simply put, human beings aren’t meant to eat a lot in the evening hours. It’s a formula for gaining weight and making it hard to lose weight.

#4. Dine by Design

When you eat in emotionally (think eating while surrounded with angry people) and aesthetically (visualize eating in your car in a traffic jam) unpleasant surroundings, my Whole Person Integrative Eating research1,2revealed you’re more likely to overeat. So think about the atmosphere in which you’ll be eating ahead of time. As often as possible, each time you eat, design a pleasing dining experience by creating an emotional and physical atmosphere that’s as pleasant as possible.

Which leads to…

#5. Pay Attention to How You Feel

Emotional eating—turning to food to soothe negative emotions or out-of-control food cravings—is the #1 predictor of overeating and weight gain, according to my Whole Person Integrative Eating research.1,2 To get control, try this: First, commit to getting in touch with your feelings before, during, and after eating. Next, make a conscious choice to eat when your emotions are balanced—not negative. Then recognize that one of the best reasons for eating is a healthy appetite, meaning, don’t let yourself get too hungry. The bottom line: Commit to eating for pleasure, with a healthy desire for food, and experience feel-good emotions when you eat and enjoy!

#6. Eat with Others

A famous study that began in the early 1960s in the small town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, explores the influence of human relationships and social support on the metabolism of high-fat, high-cholesterol, calorie-dense foods. Amazingly, this study suggests that when social support is present in our lives, especially when we eat, what we eat is somehow metabolized differently—so much so that it can keep you from getting sick. My more recent research on overeating1,2 revealed that eating alone more often than not—what I call Solo Dining—is yet another “new normal” eating style that strongly increases the odds of overeating. When it’s time to eat a meal, invite others to join you. Share mealtimes with friends, family, or coworkers as often as possible. Or if you have a pet, consider eating at the same time as your furry friend!

#7. Don’t Diet

Although dieting, judging food as “good” or “bad,” and thinking a lot about the “best” way to eat may not seem to have much in common, they are all characteristics of the overeating style I describe as “Food Fretting.”1,2If you see yourself in the food-fretter scenario, you’re at increased odds of overeating and weight gain. To get off the food-fretting treadmill, first and foremost, stop dieting. Instead, perceive food and eating as one of life’s greatest pleasures, and choose Integrative Eating as your most-of-the-time dietary lifestyle. Choose wisely (see “Get Fresh,” below) and enjoy.

#8. Get Fresh

If your most-of-the-time way of eating is, say, a donut and coffee for breakfast; a burger, fries, and coke for lunch; pizza for dinner; and chips as a snack, my research on Whole Person Integrative eating suggests that “fast foodism” is your main overeating style.1,2If a diet of mostly fast and processed foods is typical for you, consider getting in touch with your inner fresh-food fairy. You can do this by replacing sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden foodish foods—ingredients that can amp up your “overeating engine”—with more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds, and lean, free-range, chemical-free animal foods. Worth a try, don’t you think?

#9. When You Eat, Eat

Do you ever eat while watching TV? Or while working at your computer? Or when you’re driving? If you eat while doing other things, you’re doing “task snacking,” a Whole Person Integrative Eating overeating style that is linked with overeating and increased odds of weight gain.1,2The antidote? Mindfulness eating. Give up eating while doing other activities. Instead, stay mindful, keep focused on your food, and do one thing at a time. In other words, eat when you eat!

#10. Quit Chemical Cuisine

Obesogens are the manmade chemicals—plastics and pesticides—which have found their way into our food supply and beverages. They wreak their havoc on both appetite and weight by mimicking estrogen, a hormone that can make you fat. The solution? One quick tip for avoiding “chemical cuisine” is to stay away from bisphenol A (BPA) found in canned foods, bottled beverages, meat packed in plastic, and more.

The key take-away is this: To attain and maintain weight loss…for life, think outside the diet by changing beliefs you have about dieting, losing weight, and keeping it off. Replace limiting weight-loss “think” with insights into the underlying reasons you overeat and gain weight—some of the overeating styles we just told you about. The 10 key weight-loss solutions are your first step in jump-starting a relationship to food and eating that can help you turn overeating into optimal, whole person integrative eating…and attaining and maintaining weight loss…for life.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.

Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. 


  1. Scherwitz L, Kesten D, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Explore: The   Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59.
  2. Kesten D, Scherwitz L. “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42-50.

Why Exercise When You Have Cancer?

Exercise is important for everyone even individuals who have cancer. It is important to understand your body and know what you can do. An Exercise Specialist can help you to figure out an exercise plan that works for you. Everyone is unique and therefore needs an individualized exercise program.

It is important to notify your Exercise Specialist when you have treatments. The exercise program may need to be modified for a few days after treatment. Modification is important to help preserve energy and wellbeing. You may need to do two sets of an exercise instead of three for a training session or two. Exercise can help you to stay strong and relieve stress even if you are only able to do twenty minutes every other day.

There are also some precautions to take. While exercising, you may want to wear gloves. Wearing gloves helps you to keep your hands clean during workouts. This is important because the immune system is already weakened. Wiping equipment before use will also help you to be as clean as possible. It is important to wipe mats and dumbbells as well.

caruso1Start your exercise program slowly and progress when you are ready. Fitness is an individual journey and everyone starts at a different place. It is important to not compare yourself to others and keep focused on your goals. Your exercise prescription will depend on which phase of cancer you are in.

There are many ways that exercise can benefit individuals during treatment such as: maintaining your physical capabilities, lessen nausea, maintaining independence, improve quality of life, control weight, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve self-esteem.

When you are recovering from treatment you may notice that the side effects linger. Your Exercise Specialist will adjust your program according to how you feel. Eventually, you will be able to progress and feel less fatigued. It is important, however, to continue to be active after treatments have been discontinued. Research shows that there is less chance of cancer recurrence in active individuals.

Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness. Contact Robyn by email at: tsmi.caruso@aol.com



American Cancer Society (2014). Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient. Retrieved http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/stayingactive/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient

Web MD (2007). Exercise for Cancer Patients: Fitness After Treatment. Retrieved http://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/exercise-cancer-patients?page=3


Exercise: A Must for Both MS Patients to Partake In and Healthcare Providers to Promote

Exercise is an essential component of the Multiple Sclerosis patient’s treatment plan. Unfortunately, until the 1990s, exercise was highly regarded as contraindicated to MS patients. In 1993, the first medicine was approved by the FDA for MS and in 1996; the first research showing the benefits of exercise was published by the University of Utah. These were two major breakthroughs which have given hope to a population consisting of the most common disabling neurological disease of young adults (most common onset between ages 20 and 50).

Multiple Sclerosis is a neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS), consisting of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.  The immune system attacks the myelin sheath of the nerves which insulates, protects as well as affects the signal speed from the CNS to the affected body part. Presentation of initial symptom of MS include optic nerve inflammation, poor balance (ataxia), dizziness (vertigo), weakness, double vision (diplopia), bladder/bowel dysfunction, pain, sensory loss, cognitive impairment, fatigue (most common) and a host of others including but not limited to gait impairment, depression,  tremors, thermoregulatory dysfunction (autonomic) and spasticity. Because many symptoms are invisible (not outwardly visible), most notably fatigue, pain and cognitive impairment, they can affect confidence, relationships, and discourage patients from seeking treatment or help.

Currently, with more than 16 FDA approved disease modifying treatments, as well as exercise being greatly encouraged by health care providers treating MS, the face of MS is changing for the better. While exercise will not change the course of the disease progression, both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning have greatly helped reduce secondary and tertiary symptoms such as falls, injuries, anxiety/depression, impaired activities of daily living (secondary) and increase self-esteem, and independence while reducing social isolation and family disruption (tertiary).

The benefits of a safe, progressive/adaptive exercise program are improved overall fitness, ability to perform activities of daily living, moods, sense of well-being, strength while decreasing spasticity, fatigue and may prevent a host of co-morbidities. Because MS patients may be less mobile and underweight/overweight, coupled with the possibility of side effects from the use of corticosteroids, it increases the likelihood of developing conditions such as osteoporosis and diabetes mellitus. This is an even a greater reason those affected with MS should work with professionals who understand the disease.

Although many patients are still hesitant to begin an exercise program because of fear of exacerbating their condition, lack of confidence or inability to find professionals skilled to work with them, now is the best time in the history of MS treatment for both patients and professionals to be on the same page. Exercise no longer has to be an activity of an MS patient’s past. It is simply a must of the present and future.

Jeffrey Segal, owner and chief operator of Balanced Personal Training, Inc., since 2004 is a personal trainer, motivational speaker and educator who has been working in the fitness industry for over 20 years. 

At the age of 25, Jeff was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He was told fitness was not going to be part of his future as an activity. Within a couple of years, Jeff was unable to walk, was visually impaired and barely able to speak.  Rather than succumb to his prognosis, he fought for the life he once knew while burying his head in research. Within a year, not only could he walk, see and speak but he used his knowledge, skills and abilities to physically train others in both sickness and in health with an emphasis on Multiple Sclerosis patients. 


The Fitness Lifestyle & the Path to Healthy Aging

Technology really has changed our lives for the better – and for the worse. The implications of our emerging and overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyle are now only beginning to become apparent to us as we see the obesity crisis emerging as the first “real” medical and health emergency of our time. The long term consequences of this evolving – and expanding – process will be a challenge that we will ALL be affected by on some level in the years ahead. Diminished life expectancy and quality of life, the increasing numbers of people who will suffer from a wide variety of preventable chronic diseases, and finally, the premature loss of life WILL be significant if we can’t find a “way out” of this complex predicament.

Being physically active was always a part of our societal makeup in the first two hundred years of our history due to the nature of work and the lives we had to lead just trying to survive in a world without conveniences and support networks that eventually came into being in the second half of the 20th century. In the last twenty years of my lifetime, the world has turned into the “sitting of America”. What are the underlying problems we will be facing and how can we address them in order to effectively solve them? That is the question, isn’t it? The answers will emerge over time in the “dialogue” that WILL eventually occur among the parties that CAN help bring about permanent and positive change to people’s lives. Part of the answer lies with each of us in the fitness profession. We MUST define for ourselves how to “translate” what we love into “doable” solutions for those we train and teach. We have to become the change “we wish to see in the world” – one person at a time.


The world is complicated by different and opposing points of view. The “post Bush years” have shown us conflict and anger on levels never before seen in our political discourse. We now call it “gridlock” and throw up our hands at the very mention of healthcare and reform. The truth is that approximately 80 million people born into the “baby boomer” generation will be reaching 60 years of age (including my daughter who was born in 1971) in the two decades ahead.

I see the need to have community based “conversations” about the delivery of healthcare to people and how to make it affordable and accessible – and most importantly – understandable. I became a personal trainer in 1990 with my first client and during the period of 1988 to 2011 I did NOT have health insurance because I couldn’t afford it due to the nature of my uncertain and fluctuating income – AND the cost for coverage for those over forty.

I never made a “comfortable” living as a trainer because I was always struggling to build my client base, which as we all know, tends to expand and shrink depending upon a wide range of variables including the state of the economy (and jobs), people’s motivation to hire a trainer, personal finances, and other related challenges. I was in my mid forties by the time I transitioned to the fitness profession and was already “old” and a part of the higher risk age groups that tend to pay significant percentages of their income to cover their health insurance costs. I am NOT informed – even today – as to what I will do in the future regarding this issue even though I now have Medicare and a companion program through Blue Shield to help cover me in the event something unexpected happens to me.  I am now covered by health insurance and relatively well informed on health and fitness issues and that still DOES NOT qualify me to be a primary resource for solving this problem. However, I WILL make it my business to be a “part of the solution” and this time I am counting on the fitness profession to NOT be an “afterthought” in the discussion! How does that sound to you? It will take, as Hilary Clinton said a while ago in one of her books, “a village” to tackle this massive challenge.


In my book, I describe (what I BELIEVE will work) a concept whereby we bring the “major players” to the table in order to “seize the moment” and save lives in the process. First, we ALL have to agree that it is NOT OK to just “let people die” because they lack health insurance. Second, we have to agree that prevention means MORE than “testing” for diseases and that learning to make better choices (and establishing new priorities) in our daily lives, becoming conscious of our challenges, and FINALLY taking responsibility for all of them is CRITICAL. Third, we have to understand the MAIN ISSUE to be handled WILL be about MONEY (and how to pay for medical services) and we will have to always remember that lives will be at stake with whatever we decide. Fourth, it will take a “cooperative effort” on all our parts – and compromise – among the major “players” (the insurance industry, medical profession, government at ALL levels, the pharmaceutical industry, business and corporate America, health related non-profit agencies, and finally, each of us in our own communities) to decide what it is we are going to do “to fix the system” so that it works for ALL of us – not just a few of us.

My health insurance program over the past 45 years has been my exercise, fitness, and running program – even when I was covered at work during my corporate years. In the intervening years from college to the present time, I have NEVER been in the “system” because I stayed healthy. I am the EXCEPTION – not the rule. What do we DO with all the aging people who aren’t like us – or me – when the time comes to treat them for “whatever ails them”? This is the BIG question we will be facing in the years ahead as we age and I AM betting on my approach with HEALTHY AGING as being one of the KEY components of the solution! Will YOU commit yourself to this journey with me today? NOW is the time and THIS is the place! We ARE the ones who truly CAN make a difference – and save lives in the process!

Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.

Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach and fitness professional with over 25 years of experience. His passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii, where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

Senior woman exercising with trainer

An Intro to Chronic Conditions for the Fitness Professional

With the future of health being unknown, one thing is known — that Americans are living longer and with age often comes a chronic condition. Living with a chronic disease/condition is often an exhausting and frustrating ordeal.  Too often the person may feel burdened and burned out! When the stress of pain and fatigue, coupled with normal life stresses, the client may feel overwhelmed. When the client is overwhelmed, they often don’t take care of themselves and that only contributes to more fatigue and pain.  Just a few weeks of neglecting themselves can contribute to further disability.  What is the goal of the fitness professional – be positive and supportive and don’t contribute to making they condition worst.

The 3 E’s of Fitness Therapy

Your job as a fitness therapist is the 3 E’s: Educate, Empower and Encourage.

Educate yourself and client about their condition and effects their medications may have on exercise performance. Stay abreast of corrective exercise research. Knowledge is power!

Empower clients to be their own best advocate and to take control of their life not become a victim of their condition. Empower them to take the “dis” out of disability.

Encourage clients about ways to be the best they can be. Think of all methods to foster healthy lifestyles, provide hope and set realistic attainable goals

The purpose of this article is that knowledge is power, and the more you know about a condition, the more you will be an equal partner on your client’s health care team. Not every application is perfect for every client. Always stay alert that what is accepted as a “norm” today can change tomorrow with new research. That is why it is strongly encouraged that your client discuss their fitness plan with their medical professionals. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to know when to seek advice!

The Fitness Therapist is first and foremost an educator of the psychomotor domain.

Do NO Harm!

Sometimes clients with a chronic condition will be afraid to embark on an exercise program in fear that it will cause them injury or more pain. They may know intellectually that they should, but the apprehension about what might occur can be paralyzing.  They might tell you I know how I feel now and if I feel worst I might not be able to work or take care of my family.  Your first and foremost job as a fitness therapist is to DO NO harm and NOT make matters worse.  This is why having the client get prior approval and recommendations from their health professional can go a long way in motivating the client. In order to overcome a chronic condition, ask your clients to re-define their paradigm and focus on what they can do rather than what they cannot do! Ask them to think about the benefits of your successes.

Unfortunately, many people with a chronic condition are fearful that exercise may aggravate their condition, so they play it safe and do nothing. Too many people give up on an exercise program long before they experience the benefits of what regular exercise can provide. Be sensitive to your client’s concerns. Never minimize their condition, by saying, “You do not have it so bad I have a friend with ______ and she is doing fine.” What might be a small issue to one person could be a major issue to another. Always start the person where they are at and progress with care from there.

Very often improved fitness empowers the person with a chronic condition to live a richer and fuller life. Ask the client to decide what they want as an end goal of their exercise program and then design the program with small attainable steps to match their goals and abilities. Too often when a person with a chronic condition has lost control of their lives, everybody is telling them what medications to take, what to do and not do. Remind the client that they are the Captain of their wellness ship. You, their doctor and their family can be cheerleaders but they are the Captain.

As their personal trainer, do your best to make their body the best it can be. Never make promises that your program will cure them. Stay alert that many chronic conditions will ebb and flow with periods of exacerbations and remissions. While study after study supports that exercise, when done properly and prudently, produces good outcomes, exercise is never a replacement for medical care.

Regular exercise is therapy for the mind and body.

Some experts project that soon the integration of health care, fitness and wellness will intersect. The anticipated model of wellness and healthcare foresee the role of medicine will be to heal and fitness/wellness to restore health and vitality to those who participate in pro-active lifestyle.

Working definition of Wellness includes attention to the mind, body and spirit.

Today, doctors understand the importance of both passive therapies and rehabilitative exercise. While medical science continues to make great advances in surgical and pharmacologic treatments, exercise physiologists are also proving that simple interventions, such as proper body mechanics and corrective exercise, can play a significant role in decreasing the incidence and severity of orthopedic conditions and other chronic conditions. One of the goals of fitness therapy is to maximize the potential for full function and minimize the chance of re-injury.

Keep in mind that not every exercise is correct for every person or every condition. Depending upon diagnosis, certain movements will not be best for your client. Every program for a person with a chronic condition should be individualized and adapted as needed.

One size does NOT fit all in Fitness Therapy. The cookie cutter approach has no place in fitness therapy! Make the corrective exercise session a positive experience so the client will want to continue to make fitness an important aspect of their treatment plan.

It is important to stay mindful that “Recovery” of a condition may take weeks or even months depending upon the diagnosis or severity of the problem. Also, in the case of some chronic conditions, maintaining is all that can be hoped for. Slow and steady is the best approach. Progressing too quickly will only set the person up for re-injury. As the client embarks on the recovery process, you need to encourage clients to be their own health advocate and wellness trainer.

Exercise: The Miracle Cure All?

It can:

  • reduce cardiac mortality by 30%
  • improve self-image
  • reduce prostate cancer progression by 50%
  • assist in decreasing hypertension
  • reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by greater than 50 %
  • reduce bowel cancer by 45%.

For more information see aomrc.org.uk/publications/reports.

Some General Guidelines for Working with Clients with Chronic Conditions

The world of health and fitness is a complex one. Lack of exercise contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure and other assorted sedentary health concerns, but too much exercise causes overstress and injury to joints and muscles. While exercise can make us feel good, too much can bring on pain and soreness. The answer is to train smart. If a client is hurting, let them know it is OK to back off.

  1. Consider asking the client to consult their health professional for suggestions regarding exercise and their condition. The information given by their health professional supersedes the information in any textbook, because the health professional is familiar with their unique situation.
  2. Perform their exercise program when they are having the least amount of pain/discomfort. Teach the client to listen to your body and heed what it says. Keep in mind the 2-hour rule; if the client hurts more 2 hours post-exercise, back off until they are pain-free, but don’t quit. Avoid any activity that aggravates your client’s condition. If they say, “I am fatigued”, don’t force one more repetition.  If they say, after a workout, “I hurt!” Back off!
  3. Never allow the client to mask pain with pills or lotions. Pain is the body’s way of informing them that something is going on inside. To prevent a re-injury or unnecessary pain, execute motions in a pain-free range of motion with proper form. If you suspect a re-injury, ask them to schedule an appointment with their doctor. If you suspect the person is abusing pain medications, seek advice. The client is more important than any exercise program!
  4. Encourage them to carry ID and medical information with them to sessions.
  5. Always teach and ideal proper posture and proper body mechanics in all movements when possible given their health status.

Exercise Do’s And Don’ts for Your Clients

  • DO carry identification when you exercise.
  • DO check heart rate before, during, and after exercise.
  • DO listen to your body, if it hurts, STOP!
  • Do prepare the body for movement and stretch and relax after a session.
  • DO drink plenty of water before, during, and after each exercise session.
  • DO consider solitary versus social aspects of your chosen program.
  • Do teach mindfulness when exercising.
  • DON’T bounce when stretching, and stop a stretch if it hurts.
  • DONT squeeze a week’s worth of exercise into one day.
  • DON’T overestimate your client’s capacity to exercise. However, DON’T underestimate it either. Remind the client that the body is designed for movement, but let it adapt slowly and gradually.
  • DON’T allow the person to hold their breath during exercise.
  • DON’T allow the person to go directly into a sauna, hot whirlpool (Jacuzzi), or steam bath after exercising.
  • DON’T use perspiration (sweating) as an indication of how good (or bad) your workout is: we all perspire at different rates and in different amounts.

Reprinted with permission from Karl Knopf.

Karl Knopf, Ed.D, was the Director of The Fitness Therapy Program at Foothill College for almost 40 years. He has worked in almost every aspect of the industry from personal trainer and therapist to consultant to major Universities such as Stanford, Univ. of North Carolina, and the Univ. of California well as the State of California and numerous professional organizations. Dr. Knopf was the President and Founder of Fitness Educators Of Older Adults for 15 years. Currently, he is the director of ISSA’s Fitness Therapy and Senior Fitness Programs and writer. Dr. Knopf has authored numerous articles, and written more than 17 books including topics on Water Exercise, Weights for 50 Plus to Fitness Therapy.



Arthritis Today Sept/Oct 2015